Lady Gaga Returns To Save Pop Music ... Again

Why Lady Gaga's ARTPOP is the album we desperately need, in Bigger Than The Sound.

It's been exactly 149 days since Lady Gaga canceled her Born This Way ball, underwent surgery, and disappeared from the public eye to rehab (and get fitted for a gold-plated wheelchair, naturally).

But doesn't it feel so much longer than that?

And not just because in the time Gaga's been gone, Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Jay-Z all released albums, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis topped the Hot 100 twice, DOMA was repealed, Miley Cyrus discovered twerking and Amanda Bynes went crazy.

No, the past five months have felt like an eternity because they have been entirely bereft of Gaga, who went from being one of the most visible, successful and controversial artists on the planet to a mere afterthought, almost overnight. Rarely — if ever — has a star of her magnitude vanished so quickly, or as completely. Gaga was pop music's perpetual-motion machine, always moving toward something (at the time of her injury, it was the much-discussed ARTPOP album), and when she went under the knife, it was as if someone pulled the plug. Everything stopped.

And when her activity stopped, so did the endless font of over-the-top proclamations, out-there fashions, and outspoken support of worthwhile causes. In short, she went silent, and whether you like her or not, you've got to admit that the entire music biz — and pop music in particular — has been pretty boring because of that.

Of course, on Friday, with one florid, fantastic Facebook post, that machine started humming again. Gaga is back, ARTPOP has a release date (and an app), and all is right with the world.

Sure, there are still plenty of uncertainties surrounding Gaga's comeback: Can her brand of theatrical pop still resonate with the masses? Did she over-extend herself with the omni-everything Born This Way? Is there anything she can do to shock us anymore?

Lady Gaga's ARTPOP: What We Know So Far.

But the way I see it, we need her back in our lives ... in less than 150 days, pop has become a rather staid, slightly misogynistic thing, and while there are still soldiers like Daft Punk and Macklemore fighting the good fight with songs that are sonically adventurous and socially conscious, Gaga will certainly bring the reinforcements. To her, pop is important, an artform that, in addition to inspiring the listener to move, also has the power to transform lives and lift up the downtrodden (or something like that). There was a time, like when she was selling a bazillion records, that we took stuff like that for granted. Not anymore.

And if you think Gaga isn't itching for a fight, well, just check out some of the language she uses in her new Facebook post: "reverse Warholian expedition," "an age where art drives pop," "a 'rage' of electronic passion and fury." This is primetime pretention, crazy-talk at its most elevated, the kind of stuff that's sorely missing these days — Kanye's contributions notwithstanding — not to mention an integral part of what separated the Mother Monster from her contemporaries. Any concerns that she'd lost a step since she's been on the shelf should stop right now; she's back, as bad as ever, and ready to elevate pop music once again. Or tear her other labrum trying.

Is 149 days really an eternity? Of course not ... it just felt that way without Gaga in our lives. Is it an insurmountable obstacle? Probably not, though given just how quickly pop culture moves these days, her success is not a certainty. Her career was speeding along like a sportscar, until she abruptly blew a tire (or a hip) and exited the track. If there's an artist capable of climbing out of the wreckage, it's Lady Gaga ... after all, through little more than hard work — and a never-say-die attitude — she rose from an unknown to a pop royalty. Can she regain her crown? Who knows? But it's certainly going to be fun watching her try. If you thought Beyonce had 'em bowing down, well, you ain't seen nothing yet. At long last, the Queen is back.